Forestry monitoring: Weak or good enough?

The battle is on again over whether the province has cut too deeply in reducing the number of licensed science officers

Central Interior Logging Association

The battle is on again over whether the province has cut too deeply in reducing the number of licensed science officers, which includes professional foresters.

The Professional Employees Association says the government employed 525 Registered Professional Foresters at the beginning of this year, down from 722 in 2009, and says the cuts have reduced government’s ability to monitor logging and enforce forest practices.

Inspections of forest operations have been declining; there were 8,117 inspections in 2012, compared with 25,154 in 2002, according to research by Mark Haddock, a lawyer and instructor at the University of Victoria’s environmental law centre.

But that didn’t translate into any spikes in the rate of non-compliance with forestry regulations, according to a Forest Practices Board report last year.

“We do measure compliance ourselves in our audits and what we’ve found in respect to compliance is that (it) has improved over the past five, 10 years.” said Board chair Tim Ryan.

He added the FPB’s focus is on making sure ministry inspections collect enough information, are complete and there are enough of them to “warrant public confidence.”

In 2012, then Auditor General John Doyle concluded that the Ministry of Forests didn’t have enough information to determine proper timber inventories in many areas of the province.